First, you probably noticed that I added the word "international" to our bookclub. Well, why not! We are an international group and how fun to be able to say so. Thank you Nettonya and Xeno for making this true!
I hope everyone had a lovely holiday. It's not too late to join us. If you'd like to get caught up, you can do so with the links below. We've been having some pretty great conversations already.
If you're joining us late, please take a moment as you leave your comment to introduce yourself.
Here we go. Thank you Maria.
Chapter Three, Owning Our Stories
At a motivational conference several years ago, I heard the speaker confront some attendees about the stories they were telling about their lives. As several people asked him questions, their comments began with explanations of the challenges they faced in attaining their goals. He replied, and I’m paraphrasing: “Be careful of your story. Notice how your attention is on what’s not working, instead of on what is!” He went on to explain how each of us has a story about our lives, and we can control that story. As attendees continued to share their setbacks, he’d reply: “Well, that’s a great story.” His sarcastic verbal punch took the wind out of their stories, and invited many of us to consider: Will our failures or successes define us? What is the story we tell ourselves, and others, about our lives? Brené Brown gives us a process to transform all our stories into successes.
In Chapter 3 of Rising Strong, she writes:
“’Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest think we’ll ever do.’ I still believe in this quote from two of my previous books—maybe now more than ever. But I know that it takes more than courage to own your story. We own our stories so we don’t spend our lives being defined by them or denying them. And while the journey is long and difficult at times, it is the path to living a more whole-hearted life.” This is a three-part process: The Reckoning, The Rumble, and The Revolution.
My Reckoning: The first half of this year was an immensely stressful time for me. Family crises and workplace communication breakdowns thrust me into survival mode every day. I spent many nights in fitful sleep. One night I was lying awake thinking about how tired and stressed I was. I kept repeating this over and over to myself, until I remembered the words of the speaker: be careful the story you tell yourself. The words broke through my heavy thoughts. A peace I hadn’t experienced in weeks settled in, and I got out of bed determined to write a new story.
My Rumble: I grabbed a notebook and pen and what poured out of me became my personal manifesto. I returned to these words every day for weeks and weeks until the storms subsided and the situations resolved. Here are a few excerpts:
I am loved. I am supported. I have a wonderful support network. I am empowered. I am responsible. I am resilient. I am bigger than this. I am deeply loved. I am capable. I am a good listener. I am taking good care of myself. I am eating well and resting often. I attend to my health and wellness. I am enjoying the sunshine and spring growth. I am a grateful receiver of all the goodness flowing to me.
I celebrate and value my work. I care for it every day. I love every word and idea that comes to me. I put these ideas into action with confidence and grace. I trust the flow of energy which surges to help me complete challenging or difficult tasks. I listen to music and welcome its healing power into my being.
I have deep sufficiency and all my needs are met. I am rested and ready to live another day. I am excited to see this day unfold and to welcome and celebrate the blessings to come. I bless everyone I will encounter today, and I release any negativity which tries to glom onto me.
I am healed. I am strong. I am courageous. I am tender. I am a leader. I am determined to live in the fullest expression of who I am authentically created to be. I am abundant in love, grace, resources, time, and health. I love my story.
My Revolution: BB speaks of integration through creativity. “Creating is the act of paying attention to our experiences and connecting the dots so we can learn more about ourselves and the world around us,” she writes. That early morning with my notebook, the dawn rising outside my window, was a pivotal act of paying attention to my experience. Ultimately, both situations with my family and workplace demanded big action that required real courage on my part. I stepped up and handled things I never would have thought I’d do on my own. I would have collapsed under the weight of it all if I’d still been on repeat, stuck in perceived failure, telling myself how tired and stressed I was.
I think for the people at that motivational conference, and for me sometimes, too, failure can be comfortable. Playing the victim means we don’t have to take responsibility to do the hard work that comes with success, and that our outcomes are in someone else’s hands. BB doesn’t let us off the hook that easily. For the courageous who dig into their stories of failure and do the Rising Strong Process, they’ll never be bound by them. That sounds like success to me.